AUSTIN, Texas – The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health is pleased to announce the first-ever PeerFest, which takes place April 25–28, 2016 in Corpus Christi, TX. The event is inspired by Alternatives, an annual national conference created by and for persons with lived mental health experience.

PeerFest 2016 is a natural outgrowth of the Hogg Foundation’s mission of advancing recovery and wellness in Texas. Although the event takes place under the aegis of the foundation’s biannual Robert Lee Sutherland Seminars, its participatory, playful, educational and celebratory character reflects the sensibility of an Alternatives-style event that is designed to appeal to participants who are newcomers to the recovery movement and to the peer support community in Texas.

The planning of PeerFest, including major decisions about content, application criteria, marketing, and location, was carried out by a Consumer Planning Committee of 25 persons with lived mental health experience, with logistical support given by Hogg Foundation staff. In forming the Planning Committee, particular attention was paid to diversity in terms of mental health recovery experiences, ethnicity, race, sexual orientation, gender, and geography. The name of the event, PeerFest, was decided upon via a vote of the committee.

“For several years the Hogg Foundation has been seeking to foster a move toward recovery-oriented principles throughout the mental health system in Texas,” said Tammy Heinz, a program officer and consumer & family liaison at the Hogg Foundation. “What’s thrilling about PeerFest is the opportunity it creates for everyone with a stake in a transformed mental health system to celebrate recovery loudly and proudly.”

In addition to dozens of sessions and workshops, participants are offered outdoor activities and excursions that take advantage of the local sites and scenery in Corpus Christi. There is a Creativity Space for arts and crafts projects, and a Comfort Suite that provides a relaxing refuge for those who need it. The first day of PeerFest will also coincide with Buccaneer Days, Corpus Christi’s annual mass celebration and festival.

The Hogg Foundation advances recovery and wellness in Texas by funding mental health services, policy analysis, research, and public education. The foundation was created in 1940 by the children of former Texas Gov. James S. Hogg and is part of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at The University of Texas at Austin.